CAMPAIGN UPDATE, 18 October 2017
On 23 August 2017 the Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) launched a two-pronged BDS campaign, Israel's Blood Diamonds. This campaign was prompted by the fact that Australia is the 2017 chair of the international diamond regulatory body, the Kimberley Process Certifications Scheme (KPCS), which regulates the trade in rough diamonds. So we thought it timely to lobby the Australian Government to work for a an ethical, responsible international diamond trade, free from the stain of Israel’s blood diamonds and human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.
The first aspect is a specific short-term email campaign directed at the Australian Government. The email asks Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Australian politicians to ensure that the issue of blood diamonds is raised at this year's Kimberley Process meetings being held here in Australia - the next KP meeting is in Brisbane, 9-14 December 2017. This has primarily been a social media campaign encouraging the public to send emails to our politicians. I am pleased to report that 192 emails have now been sent to Julie Bishop, 46 emails have been sent to Federal Senators and 32 to Federal Members in the House of Representatives. We encourage you to, with a few clicks, send an email to Julie Bishop, Senators and your local MP. It has also been very encouraging to receive support for, and promotion of, this campaign from other states in Australia and international activists in Ireland, London, Paris, Italy and Malaysia.
The second aspect is a long-term street education campaign which twins with our weekly BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) actions in Rundle Mall. For over 361 weeks we have been raising awareness about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and the need for a boycott of Israeli products. For the last two months we have also handed out information leaflets about our blood diamonds campaign - did you know that diamonds are Israel’s largest export, comprising some 22% of Israel's total exports in 2016. Our campaign specifically requests shoppers in the market for a diamond to ask jewellers where their diamonds are cut and polished and to insist that the jewellery they buy has no connection with Israel.
Our street campaigns and the reactions we receive from the general public are often our best gauge of both the public sentiment on an issue and the effectiveness of our work. And this campaign has been very interesting to observe. Our placards always attract a great deal of attention and are a starting point for conversations, but the fact that we are talking about blood diamonds has widened the demographic of shoppers wanting to talk to us. Large numbers of people have seen Leonardo Di Caprio and his heroics in the 2006 film Blood Diamond and they are fascinated to find out that Israel is also part of the supply chain of the world's diamond trade. Conversely, people are also fascinated to find out that Israel’s largest export is diamonds. As one woman said last week, "I have been interested in the Palestinian cause for years but I have never heard that diamonds are their largest export." Quite a few people have said they will make sure any jewellery they buy does not contain diamonds sourced from Israel.
We have also had some strong negative reactions. A young woman walked past one day grimacing with her hands over her ears saying that we were taking her job away. Nothing could be further from the truth. We would like all of Adelaide’s jewellers to continue to provide their products which bring much joy to many South Australians and to continue to provide jobs. All we are asking is that jewellers research the provenance of their diamonds and provide this information publicly to shoppers, so that consumers can make their own ethical choices about the products they purchase.
If you are interested in this campaign you might like to listen to an interview broadcast by Radio Adelaide on 8 October, the seventh anniversary of our weekly actions in Rundle Mall. Des Lawrence recorded and produced an hour-long show for A Peace of the Action, which comprises an interview with me about BDS in Adelaide in general, some music, an interview with me about the blood diamond campaign, followed by Roger Water’s recent interview on BDS.
Thank you to everyone involved in this campaign for your dedication and encouragement.
Thank you to all those who have supported our campaign.
- Margaret Cassar, AFOPA, 18 October 2017
PLEASE GIVE TWO MINUTES OF YOUR TIME FOR PALESTINE.
ENSURE YOUR VOICE IS HEARD FOR AN ETHICAL, RESPONSIBLE DIAMOND TRADE, FREE FROM THE STAIN OF ISRAEL'S BLOOD DIAMONDS AND HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AGAINST THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE.
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